Business Architecture: Aligning Strategy & Deployment

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Author(s)

Editorial Director and current Faculty Member, BPMInstitute.org
Tom Dwyer is the Editorial Director and current Faculty Member of BPMInstitute.org. He writes, presents and consults on topics that include Business Process Management, Business-to-Business, Enterprise Application Integration, and Service-Oriented Architecture. Mr. Dwyer has conducted primary research and published extensive reports on the Application Software Infrastructure markets. Before becoming an industry analyst in 1998, Mr. Dwyer spent 28 years in the computer industry in various engineering, marketing, professional services, and sales functions. He was a co-founder and general manager of a new software venture at Xerox, which became a wholly owned subsidiary. Mr. Dwyer has held senior management positions in marketing and engineering at Wang Laboratories and Prime Computer and has developed and launched more than 15 software products.
President, TSG, Inc.
William Ulrich is President of TSG, Inc. and a strategic planning consultant specializing in business / IT alignment. He has worked with numerous large corporations and government agencies in the area of business / IT alignment. Mr. Ulrich has written several books and published hundreds of articles. His latest book is Business Architecture: The Art and Practice of Business Transformation. Mr. Ulrich is a Former Editorial Director of BAInstitute.org and Co-founder of the Business Architecture Guild and an advisor to the Penn State Enterprise Architecture Advisory Group.

Business architecture is, as my co-chair Ken Orr has said, the “missing link” in the architecture puzzle. While our first architecture conference this past spring focused on Enterprise Architecture, we found a groundswell of support from our attendees and analysts for drilling into the specifics of Business Architecture.

While other Enterprise Architecture Conferences continue to take a generalized approach to the topic of architecture within organizations, the Business Architecture Conference will drill directly into the critical, yet ill-defined and often ignored world of business architectures.

Business Architecture: A Critical Discipline

So what is Business Architecture? The following definition was derived from a variety of sources.

Business Architecture: Conceptual views & physical instantiations of business strategy, governance structures and processes – across the extended value chain.

This definition boils down to a simple concept – organizations are living organisms that work in self-organizing ways, in highly interconnected ways with external entities. Yet these complex infrastructures are not reflected by our outdated organization charts. Organizational governance structures are hidden from view. In most cases, the business processes that keep the organization alive are also hidden, although significant work is being done in exposing, streamlining and managing those processes.

The bottom line is that if organizations do not have transparent governance structures and processes, then management will continue to struggle to streamline those governance structures and processes – particularly as they impact and interact with information technology, a key enabler in today’s organization.

Therefore, exposing, streamlining and aligning business architectures, is a critical aspect to closing the gap between the BPM and IT architecture work that is well underway. This includes services oriented architecture (SOA) that is consuming budgets across numerous organizations.

Busting the Mold: Rethinking Business / IT Architecture Governance

There are countless examples across every industry showing how IT is insufficiently aligned with business strategy, governance structures and processes. But IT does not have, in most cases, a well articulated view of each of these facets of the business architecture that it can use to align data, application and services oriented architectures.

IT management then must either create their own vision – based on conjecture or assumptions – or move blindly forward in the absence of any clear direction. This is all too common.

Therefore, it is difficult to discuss business architecture without connecting it to information technology. Further, most organizations are not even organized in a way that supports business / IT architecture alignment. In fact, communication and synchronization between IT and the business community appears to be growing increasingly dysfunctional. This must change if organizations are to compete and thrive.

Business Architecture Conference

Consider the myriad concepts that lack cohesiveness and coordination. There are BPM initiatives that have no way of ensuring that technology will evolve or transition to support those efforts. IT architecture transformational work is similarly underway with no clear vision of where the business is heading. Compounding this situation is the fact that there is clearly a lack of business / IT governance when it comes to articulating this challenge and related solutions.

The Business Architecture Conference Series will explore the basis for exposing and streamlining business architectures as well as provide approaches for the critical alignment challenges between business and IT architectures. These events, along with the Business Architecture Bulletin, web seminars and homepage will allow the community of business and IT architects to explore and provide common solutions that truly fill in the missing link in the architecture puzzle.

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